Chief mate of bulker docked in Philadelphia dies after falling into empty cargo space

The chief officer of a dry-bulk ship was killed when he fell into an empty hold on his vessel at the Port of Philadelphia.

Denis Seretinek, 46, of Croatia, died in the Dec. 5, 2010, accident aboard Startramp. Philadelphia police said he slipped and fell almost 80 feet.

“The victim was on the deck trying to unhook (equipment) from an overhead crane when he fell,” Officer Tanya Little said. When rescuers arrived, “the ship’s chief officer was lying on the floor of the ship’s empty cargo hold.”

The 483-foot Startramp is a self-unloading, open-hatch dry cargo vessel with three 40-metric-ton cranes and a crew of 19. It was moored at the port, where it had offloaded a delivery of cocoa, when Seretinek plunged to his death.

The Marshall Islands-flagged Startramp is part of the general cargo fleet managed by Korkyra Shipping Ltd., based in Korcula, Croatia. The owner is Startramp Shipping Ltd. of the Marshall Islands. The ship was built in 2007 in Indonesia.

The accident happened at 1945 at Philadelphia’s Pier 84, U.S. Coast Guard investigator Shane Laws said. The Startramp crew had just finished offloading their 12,900-gross-ton vessel and were preparing to depart the port, police said.

“It was discharging cocoa in Philadelphia, and they were handling the remains of the dunnage that had to be taken out of the hold,” said Korkyra’s managing director, Franica Matic.

Matic said she did not know what caused Seretinek to fall to his death. She referred further questions to a colleague, Capt. Matko Franic, who said the company could provide no further details until the investigations are completed.

Laws said the crew’s task that evening — cleaning the cargo holds and removing the dunnage — was routine. Other crew witnessed the fall and have been interviewed by investigators.

Seretinek was pronounced dead at 2112 at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

In January, the Coast Guard was still waiting for medical records to confirm Seretinek’s treatment, cause of death and drug test results, Laws said.

Dom Yanchunas

By Professional Mariner Staff